• 52 Small Steps

Black Plastic Trays



For this step try and commit to no longer buying any food trays that are made out of black plastic.


I have read about the process our waste goes through, in particular the waste from Cheshire East (as that is where my waste is processed). My household waste is transferred to a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) at Shotton near Liverpool. It has been very interesting to see how comprehensive the recovery process is.

The plastics at the MRF will have been through blowers to recover bags, manual sorting, large disk screens, a flat and light plastic separator, more manual sorting, magnets, an eddy current separator and 3 different optical sorters (which are the sorters for the different plastics).

Unfortunately, the optical sorters cannot "see" the black plastic against the black conveyor belt and it remains unsorted and joins the residue of unsorted and unwanted materials that are burned to become Refuse Derived Fuel.


Black plastic is not as desirable for recycling as clear plastic as it cannot be dyed clear whereas clear plastic can be dyed.


Often it is meat products that use the black plastic trays. Why not try using your local butcher instead?


They will often happily fill your own tupperware instead of using single use containers.


I found a couple of videos that I thought were interesting showing where my waste goes and how it is processed...


The first is from Cheshire East encouraging correctly adding recycling to your curbside bin...



The second is longer but shows the whole process through UPM Shotton Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and how the different streams are sorted...


No more black plastic trays!

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